This week we caught up with 2nd Year student Rin Ishikawa, where he talked about getting into ballet at a young age, being inspired by his teachers at the School and dancers Alessandra Ferri and Jeffrey Cirio, and how he plans to give back to the art form in the future.
How did you get into ballet?
I started dancing when I was very little. I remember dancing around in the living room with Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on the TV trying to copy the way he moved. I was madly in love with him thanks to my dad, and that’s where dance became a part of me.
When I was around 3 years old, I was suffering from severe asthma. Thankfully after months of treatment, my condition got better to the point where my doctor suggested I either start swimming, gymnastics or ballet to build up my stamina and general fitness.
I knew that I wasn’t a fan of water and gymnastics didn’t really appeal to me, but ballet? I had no idea what that was so I turned to mum and asked. The first video my mum showed me was Alessandra Ferri in Giselle. After seeing her dance, it struck me. I was completely captivated by her dancing. I watched the video over and over again for a few months.
When I turned 4, my parents bought me a black pair of ballet shoes and that’s where it all started.
Who inspires you?
My forever inspiration will always be Alessandra Ferri. I was fortunate enough to share the stage with her several times in The Royal Ballet’s production of Woolf Works in 2014, when I was at White Lodge.
Another inspiration to me are my teachers. Especially my current ballet teacher Mr. Yow, he’s been someone I’ve always wanted to learn from since the age of 11, so it’s quite special to be given the opportunity to learn from Mr. (David) Yow every day. He’s so intelligent and knowledgeable, it’s really a dream come true to be one of his students.
How has your time at English National Ballet School been so far?
It’s been absolutely incredible. I think the community Miss (Viviana) Durante and the School has built is so welcoming and generous. Everyone’s like a family here, teachers and members of staff who are so good at what they do and I’m grateful to be surrounded by beautiful friends.
Although the circumstances we’ve faced has shifted our training and lives completely, the school has done a tremendous job, providing us with access to online training over zoom. It keeps us connected no matter the distance, and provides us with excellent training to prepare us as professional dancers.
What does ballet mean to you?
Ballet is my kind of meditation. Yes, it’s hard work and success doesn’t come overnight. But taking classes every day and pushing myself and then getting to perform on stage is so rewarding. This art form means a lot because not only does it develop you as an artist, but as a human being as well. It teaches you about discipline, commitment, patience and grit.
Who are your favourite dancers/choreographers?
Although their backgrounds and styles are different, something I think they have in common is the appreciation for the music and the specific meanings behind each movement. I feel like they are truthful and direct with their approach and choice of languages they create within a piece. Whenever I watch a creation by them it has always resonated with me.
Being here at English National Ballet School and watching ENB’s productions. I really admire Jeffrey Cirio. Watching him in Akram Khan’s Giselle as Hilarion and Etudes in the 70th Anniversary Gala Celebration last year was breathtaking. A virtuosic, masculine and an honest dancer who’s able to dance so many different genres and make it his own. He’s a dancer who I look up to.
What are your future aspirations?
I’d like to join a company with virtuosity in their style of repertoires. Companies such as the English National Ballet where they perform great classical ballets to new modern works would be a dream. I also think the ‘Emerging Dancer’ is a great opportunity for dancers whose career has only just began to express themselves. Watching it every year and seeing some of the graduates of this school involved in the competition is so inspiring.
I want to be dancer who’s got something different from others. To bring something extra to a performance so it resonates with the audience watching. But most importantly, I think if I can give back to this art form whether that’s by inspiring people who come to watch to start dancing, teaching or coaching the next generations or creating a piece in the future which is appreciated, I will be very happy.
What is the best part of being a student at English National Ballet School?
The best part of being a student at English National Ballet School is they prepare you with the technique and style of dancing required of professional artists today. You get to learn the style of British ballet focusing on clean and precise technique free of exaggeration and mannerisms. Getting the opportunity to work with experienced teachers and guest choreographers throughout the year, being involved with major performances within the School and the Company. The School has so much it can offer you if you put in the time and effort. It’s an excellent School providing us with so much knowledge and opportunities, and I’m very grateful and honoured to be a student here.
Photo credit: Photography by ASH
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